Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Second Law Of Thermodymanics and Evolution


Some really stupid creationists will sometimes try to argue that the 2nd law of thermodynamics proves that evolution cannot happen. The 2nd law states that in a closed system, entropy or disorder, always increases. And since evolution means that complexity will increase over time in organisms, this somehow violates the necessary increase in entropy - unless a god can intervene.

The argument is easy to refute and has been done so many times. Unfortunately, many unlearned creationists have never bothered to look up the evidence refuting the argument and they let their confirmation bias get the better of them.

So...

First, the earth is clearly not a closed system. We are part of a solar system and we have a sun. The sun provides us energy, and that energy can allow complexity to increase without a violation of the 2nd law, which only applies to closed systems.

Furthermore, Brian Green in his first book The Elegant Universe notes, “Everything tends towards greater disorder. Even if you clean your cluttered desk, decreasing its entropy, the total entropy, including that of your body and the air in the room, actually increase. You see, to clean your desk you have to expend energy, you have to disrupt some of the orderly molecules of fat in your body to create this energy for your muscles, and as you clean, your body gives off heat, which jostles the surrounding air molecules into a higher state of agitation and disorder. When all of these effects are accounted for, they more than compensate for your desk’s decrease in entropy, and thus the total entropy increases.” (pp. 334-335)


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Physicists Claim Mathematical Proof Universe Began Spontaneously From Nothing


I try to keep the content of this blog original, but every once in a while I like to report on interesting scientific findings. Recently over on medium.com I read a report that Chinese physicists claimed that they have mathematical proof that the universe could have spontaneously formed from nothing. When such incredible claims are made, even if they favor our position, we should always be reserved and examine the data with as much skepticism as we would data that contradicted our viewpoints.

From the site:


One of the great theories of modern cosmology is that the universe began in a Big Bang. This is not just an idea but a scientific theory backed up by numerous lines of evidence.

For a start, there is the cosmic microwave background, which is a kind of echo of the big bang; then there is the ongoing expansion of the cosmos, which when imagined backwards, hints at a Big Bang-type origin; and the abundance of the primordial elements, such as helium-4, helium-3, deuterium and so on, can all be calculated using the theory.

But that still leaves a huge puzzle. What caused the Big Bang itself? For many years, cosmologists have relied on the idea that the universe formed spontaneously, that the Big Bang was the result of quantum fluctuations in which the Universe came into existence from nothing.



That’s plausible, given what we know about quantum mechanics. But physicists really need more — a mathematical proof to give the idea flesh.

Today they get their wish thanks to the work of Dongshan He and buddies at the Wuhan Institute of Physics and Mathematics in China. These guys have come up with the first rigorous proof that the Big Bang could indeed have occurred spontaneously because of quantum fluctuations.

The new proof is based on a special set of solutions to a mathematical entity known as the Wheeler-DeWitt equation. In the first half of the 20th century, cosmologists struggled to combine the two pillars of modern physics— quantum mechanics and general relativity—in a way that reasonably described the universe. As far as they could tell, these theories were entirely at odds with each other.

The breakthrough came in the 1960s when the physicists John Wheeler and Bryce DeWitt combined these previously incompatible ideas in a mathematical framework now known as the Wheeler-DeWitt equation. The new work of Dongshan and co explores some new solutions to this equation.

At the heart of their thinking is Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. This allows a small empty space to come into existence probabilistically due to fluctuations in what physicists call the metastable false vacuum.

When this happens, there are two possibilities. If this bubble of space does not expand rapidly, it disappears again almost instantly. But if the bubble can expand to a large enough size, then a universe is created in a way that is irreversible.

Link: https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/ed7ed0f304a3
Arxiv paper: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1404.1207v1.pdf


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Maybe I'm Not Human


I'm going to get a little personal here for a moment.

I think I'm missing out on one of life's most amazing gifts: being in love. I'm in my early thirties and I have never once been in love before. By "being in love" I mean being in a loving relationship with someone who is also in love with you. I do not mean to say loving someone who does not love you back. I'm talking about the full package, the two-way street of mutual love. I have never had a relationship where I've been in love with the person I've dated where she loved me back. I thought I came close to it once, but in retrospect, I don't think I could call it true love. It may have been obsession masquerading around and fooling my brain into thinking it was love.

Some of you have been in love. Some of you maybe are in love. Some of you fell in love, got married and are still in love with your spouse. But love for me so far has never happened. I'm very picky about women. I need a girl with a certain look. I tend to fall in love with my eyes pretty easy, but that isn't really love, that's lust. True love means you have to be able to look past the surface to the inner core of a being. You have to accept them for all their flaws, you have to still be able to love them at their worst moment. That for me is the hardest thing to do. I have a really hard time loving the whole person and seeing past their flaws. The most beautiful woman are far from perfect.

I've been on many sides of the love dilemma. I've been in what I thought was love with women who didn't love me back. I've had women who were in love with me that I didn't love back. I've been in love with a woman's looks but hated their personality, and I've been in love with a woman's personality but wasn't attracted to their looks. It is not fun being in either of these situations and they all lead to emotional suffering for those involved.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Missing In Action


It's been a while since I've blogged. I've had a few changes in my life in the past month or so. I got a new job recently and it requires that I work longer hours. That means less time for blogging, but more money, and that means more opportunity for partying. This past winter I spent many cold winter nights huddled in front of my computer blogging and debating online. Now that I have more money, and the weather has gotten nicer, it seems to me that my priorities have changed. Going out partying in the city with my friends has won out over sitting home alone with my computer.

This is not to say that I've lost interest in my atheism. Not at all. I've just been focused much more on the city. I'm still fascinated by metaphysics and questions on ultimate reality. I've been watching the new Cosmos series. So far my reviews are mostly positive. I like the fact that Tyson spends a lot of time inculcating the scientific mentality into the audience by telling them to never rely on authorities and to question everything, especially commonly held assumptions. I'm not sure the new Cosmos is better than the original that Carl Sagan did in 1980. Sagan's was a masterpiece. He had an amazing talent in personifying the awe and wonder of the universe. Tyson certainly has that too, and it's no wonder that he should be Sagan's natural successor. But the new Cosmos hasn't felt to me to be inspiring that awesome wonder that the original did in quite the same way.

I haven't been reading any new books about anything interesting. I've been engaging in a few online debates here and there, and what I've mostly gotten out of them is a further confirmation that theism makes no sense. A few witty Christians I've been debating really think that the evidence lies on their side. I've noticed though, that many Christian blogs have strict commenting policies. If you say anything that they don't like, you're banished. Gone. Most atheist blogs have a free and open commenting policy. I let anyone comment on my blog, and only have to delete the occasional spammer.

Unfortunately, given my new schedule, I won't be able to blog at the same volume I once did. If I'm lucky I'll be able to squeeze one or two a week. I miss those long nights writing for hours on my laptop. I have a host of ideas in their embryonic stages that I want to try committing myself to writing. I want to explore endurantism verses perdurantism, dating dynamics for atheists, and many more. All in due time I hope.

For now, getting over my hangover is my main concern.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

"I Have My Own Interpretation Of The Qur'an"


Earlier this month at my debate MeetUp I had a lovely conversation with a Muslim man over a few glasses of wine about the NSA spying scandal. In the middle of our conversation, I asked if he was Muslim, and he told me that he was. I then asked him why he thought drinking alcohol was OK since it is a prohibition in Islam and he told me that he has his "own interpretation of the Qur'an."

This is a line echoed by many theists that I've engaged in intellectual discussions with, and it's a perfect example highlighting one of the two major problems with the divine command theory of ethics. The epistemic problem with the DCT is due to the fact that no one knows what god commanded what, and whatever commands god is believed to have made can be subjectively interpreted however one wants. This leaves you ultimately, in practice, with moral relativism - which is, ironically, the very thing that the DCT seeks to eliminate.

Now the Muslim gentleman at that MeetUp is a really nice guy. He's pretty much just a regular guy who happens to be Muslim, and he can engage in intellectual conversations on a variety of topics. He takes a liberal approach to his interpretation of the Qur'an, which I think us atheists would hope for all Muslims to do, if they insist upon keeping the faith. It is said that American Muslims are far less radicalized than Muslims in other Western countries. There are always exceptions, but this is generally true. I suppose what we should encourage among all Muslims, but specifically Muslims living in the West (because we are most affected by them), is that they adopt a progressive attitude towards their religion in the same way many Christians in the West have.

Finally, I've also got my own interpretation of the Qur'an. And that is that it's a man-made book full of contradictions and factual errors and it shows. See here.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Multiverse Seen As More Likely


For the past week the major news coming from science was that faint gravitational waves from the earliest moments of the universe were detected by the BICEP2 observatory near the south pole. The findings, if correct, would confirm a prediction made by Einstein nearly 100 years ago in General Relativity, as well as in inflationary theory developed by Alan Guth in 1980.

"It's hard to build models of inflation that don't lead to a multiverse," says Guth, quoted from a recent Huffington Post article. Since most models of inflation lead to a multiverse, and the recent finding corroborates predictions made by inflation theory, then it seems that the multiverse just got a big boost in credibility. For years the critics were saying that the multiverse was pure speculation, tantamount to an atheistic version of god as an explanatory force. We may or may not ever have direct confirmation of another universe, but if the data holds up and is confirmed by additional tests (of which there are several pending) then the predictions made in inflation theory that other universes are likely will move it closer to physics from metaphysics.

The multiverse does offer us an explanation for many of the current puzzles in science, like why the values of the physical constants are in the life permitting range. So if we have good evidence that the multiverse is true, there goes the fine tuning argument - which I consider the only decent argument theism has. And if the fine tuning argument implodes, then theism is really going to be in trouble in the future. Take away the cosmological argument and the fine tuning argument for example, (which I think there are already good refutations for) and theism really has nothing left to stand on. There is nothing within the universe that really needs god as an explanation that isn't better served by science and philosophy. 

So what's left for theism? What will the nature of apologetics look like in 2050 when we might have discovered quantum gravity and when an inflation model with multiverse predictions becomes the cosmological paradigm rendering the fine tuning argument a total dud? I wonder what debates about the existence of god will be like then. 

Presumably the atheist will have a much larger arsenal of data to draw from, as has always been the case when new scientific discoveries are made. I am optimistic that within this century, theism will become the minority position in the West, because it's explanatory power will fail to compete with the rigor of naturalistic science, and because many of the social functions that religion has played will be replaced by secular alternatives.  


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Why I Call Myself "The Thinker"


I don't call myself "The Thinker" because I think I'm smarter or better than everyone else, or that only atheists "think" rationally or are capable of being thoughtful and rational. I call myself The Thinker because I'm fascinated by many intellectual topics like science, philosophy, history, politics and religion - which I consider an intellectual topic of discussion. I like to think about these things as they give me great pleasure and enjoyment. That's it. If you're fascinated by these topics as I am and spend a lot of time dwelling on them, then I consider you a thinker as well, even if I disagree with you.


Fun To Use Tools For Learning Physics


If you like physics like I do, check out wolfram.com for some interactive tools that help you visualize things like length contraction and time dilation in Special Relativity.









Monday, March 10, 2014

The EPR Paradox and Special Relativity


I'm in the middle of taking the free course on Special Relativity over on worldscienceu.com. I've already taken the simple version that doesn't include any math, and now I've just started the technical version that has all the math. It's a challenge since I haven't done complex math in years.

One of the things that I was already familiar with in relativity is how the EPR paradox kind of throws a challenge to the notion of the relativity of simultaneity. The EPR paradox is basically quantum entanglement. When two quantum particles become entangled, they can be separated at great distances and when one of the particles is measured and it becomes known that it has a certain spin, the other particle instantly becomes affected and will spin in the opposite direction. That won't become known until the other particle is measured of course, and any information about the spin of the first particle that was measured won't be able to travel faster than the speed of light. This seems to preserve Einstein's Special Relativity (SR) very well that no information can travel though space faster than light.

But this is not what bugs me. What bugs me is how if two distant particles can "instantly" affect one another, and if according to SR our reference frame that determines what is "now" depends on our velocity relative to other objects, how can the two entangled particles instantly affect one another? Suppose one of the particles was on a space ship travelling at 80% the speed of light and moving towards the other entangled particle that is a million light years away. According to SR the reference frame of the particle on the ship would require that its "now" slice contain the future events of the other distant particle. So if the particle on the moving ship is measured, does the other distant particle's spin change "instantly" or does it change in the far future, according to the measured particle's reference frame on the moving ship?



Monday, March 3, 2014

Skeptical Theism: A Few Thoughts


Skeptical theism is view that we are not in a position to know god's reasons for acting or refraining from acting in particular situations. It is often invoked in response to the problem of evil, whereby it is argued that god has morally sufficient reasons for permitting or allowing moral evil or even causing suffering, but we are not in a position to know why.

There are several problems that many atheists have brought up to the skeptical theistic position. For example, if we are in no position to tell why god has allowed evil and suffering, then if someone were to see a person suffering, it's possible for one to reason that it's all part of god's plan that in the end will make sense and that they should not interfere. This, as we can imagine, could lead to indifference toward's human moral evil and suffering. Why should I stop a murderer, or help prevent suffering, if god is using it as a means to an end? The skeptical theist who says that we should never think in these terms, or that the purpose of the other person's plight was to motivate you to help or prevent it, presumes to know what god wants us to do in a particular situation, which is inconsistent with skeptical theism.

So why should we prevent suffering and evil? Wouldn't this thwart god's plan to draw people closer to him? And if we are to prevent suffering, as some theists argue we have a duty to do, it seems to have a long term affect of secularizing the population and increasing the number of atheists and agnostics. A look around the world at the richest and most advanced countries with the highest standards of living shows a correlation with decreased religious belief and worship. This further supports the view that if we grant the skeptical theistic approach, it could be argued that we are not in the position to know we have the duty to prevent suffering in particular instances; it could be part of god's plan.


It looks like this:

Skeptical Theist: God uses/allows suffering and evil to draw people closer to him.

Atheist: Then we shouldn't prevent suffering and evil.

Skeptical Theist: Oh no we should. It is a duty from god.

Atheist: Then it thwarts god's plan. And if we prevent it, it will help turn people away from god.

Skeptical Theist: God uses you to prevent the evil and suffering he allowed.

Atheist: It doesn't make sense. God uses suffering to draw people towards him, and that's his plan, but when I prevent the suffering, his plan is to inspire me to prevent it? It's as if god's plan changes on the fly.


Since suffering is the one of the most common reasons why people turn away from god, I'm not sure it even makes sense for the theist to argue that god uses suffering to drawn people towards him. I personally think skeptical theism is a one-size-fits-all excuse out of any situation or fact inconvenient to theism. The theist doesn't have to justify it with any data. All they have to do is insist that god has morally sufficient reasons for doing or allowing what he does. This is partly why I developed my evolutionary argument against god. It circumvents the usual skeptical theistic approach to human moral evil and suffering.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Fuck It


About five years ago I really started taking my atheism seriously. I began learning about many of the world's religions and I became obsessed with the arguments for god. This made me a whole lot smarter in the areas of science, history, philosophy and of course, religion. But now I feel like I'm at that point where I've pretty much heard everything. I've taken on the best arguments for god that I could find and tried to refute everyone of them. I've had dozens and dozens of debates with theists online and in person. And after 5 years of debates and rigorous education in the arguments between atheism and theism, I have yet to still hear a reasonable and convincing case that a god of some sort exists.

Now I don't think that I'm done, but I do think that counter-apologetics for me might be running out of steam. Don't get me wrong, I'm still fascinated by the science and philosophy behind the theism vs. atheism debate. If I had enough money, I would actually consider getting a PhD in philosophy or maybe physics specifically so that I could become the best atheist debater in the history of the world. It's a fantasy of mine. But there is also a pull from the materialistic world. And I don't mean materialism in the sense of ontological naturalism, I mean materialism in the sense of money, bitches. There is a part of me that wants to say, "Fuck it, you only live once. Why not just party, drink, give into consumerism and carnal pleasure, and forget about all that atheism shit? God doesn't exist."

I struggle with this. These two mindsets seem to be pulling me from either side, like an angel and a demon sitting on opposite shoulders. Only with me, it's the angel that's telling me to focus more on my atheism!

Right now, it's winter and it's freezing outside. We've had a particularly nasty couple of months here in New York, but in a few weeks spring will be here and I will want to get back into party mode. Perhaps I should take a cue from the Buddha and find the middle path. Perhaps I should strike a balance between my conflicting desires to immerse myself in these intellectual things and immerse myself in gratuitous debauchery. I guess that's probably the right thing to do. Plus, I know that if I do immerse myself in the party scene again I'll quickly get bored with it, because I've been there and done that, and the people living the party life are not deep thinking intellectuals for the most part. So it's probably best I do a little of both. I can't live without my intellectual fix, and the desire grows stronger and stronger as I get older. So there is no way I'm giving up my pursuit of wisdom.

But, I don't want to turn into some old fogey either, who's buried in books and who's totally lost touch with style and coolness.

Fuck it, I'm going to have to rethink my previous "fuck it."


Friday, February 28, 2014

The Real Challenges For Atheism Are Social


With the after math of yet another successful debate win on the side of science and atheism upon us, I do have to say that the hard questions facing atheists are not really scientific or metaphysical ones, they're social challenges like, how to deal with death as an atheist, finding purpose, happiness and meaning. I know that there are many online communities that have risen up to this challenge to offer support networks and advice. For me personally, living as an atheist, and dealing with the issues we all face and struggle with, has never really been a challenge. I almost wish I could say that I overcame a fundamentalist upbringing and eventually saw the light that is atheism, but I didn't.

I've always dealt with life's challenges free from any kind of religious help or support structure. The only time I've felt bad about myself is when I failed to live up to my expectations. Well, my family and friends have also had an influence on me. But religion never had anything to do it. Another problem atheists face is that the critics will always say things like atheism necessarily leads to gulags, death camps and tyranny. Nothing could be further than the truth. Tell me Mr. Critic, why aren't there death camps all over Western Europe now, or Japan? Surely the precipitous drop in these country's religiosity would necessitate that. But no. We see a definite correlation with lower levels of religious belief with lower crime and higher standards of living.

I was just reading an op-ed on the NY Times by one Ross Douthat, the resident conservative at the mostly liberal paper. He writes that, "the various problems with today’s happy atheism — problems that should be obvious to those with eyes to see — are sufficient on their own to drive secular liberalism toward the kind of intellectual crisis that seems to me to lurk, iceberg-like, somewhere out ahead." He's hailing the coming end to atheism; that it's just one crisis away from disaster. I completely disagree with his premature calculation. While it is true that there have been many premature declarations of the end of religion in the past century or so, I think the recent rise in secularism and atheism is here to stay and will be a increasingly unstoppable force. The reason why it is different now from when Nietzsche declared god was dead, or when the counter-culture jettisoned traditional Christianity in favor of quasi-spiritualism, is because of the internet. The internet means that if I hear an apologetic trick, I can easily Google it and find dozens of sites criticizing it and breaking down its failed science and logic. Old-school apologists who continue trotting out the same old tired and refuted arguments who aren't aware of this fact are sealing their own religion's fate, and it ain't gonna be pretty for them.

To me, the internet is without a doubt the single biggest reason why atheism is on the rise and it will eventually lead to the death of religion. Social progress on issues like gay marriage are another important reason and Douthat acknowledges this too. But apparently theists like Douthat think all this hoopla over atheism today is just another cultural fad that's headed for a collision with an iceberg any day now and that we're one crisis away from hundreds of millions of people in the West picking up their Bibles and reconnecting with the Lord. Perhaps they are not aware of the way technology and social issues have changed the playing field. I seriously cannot image the West going back to good ol' Christian values based on that old time religion.

Atheism is here to stay and no, death camps are not inevitable because of it. Take that, Douthat.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

William Lane Craig Argues For Same Sex Marriage (Sort Of)


On a Q & A a while back I think William Lane Craig inadvertently made the case for legalized same sex marriage! It happened on a question regarding, "Could God's Moral Commands Be Improved?" The questioner asks whether the commands god gave the Israelites could be improved upon. And Craig responds that, "God’s commands can be contingent upon the realities of the human condition relative to the times and places of the recipients of those commands," and that there is "a distinction between moral law and civil law." Craig continues, "Ancient Israel under Moses was a theocracy: God was the head of the government. We don’t live in a theocracy, so many acts which are deeply immoral (like adultery) are not illegal."

So here Craig seems to draw a distinction that what may be wrong in the eyes of god should not always be illegal. He seems to agree, writing:

Even though adultery is not illegal in a non-theocratic society, it remains a sin that that is deeply immoral in God’s sight. Since we live in a non-theocratic society, we should not try to make everything that is immoral also illegal.

But now the obvious question arises. If adultery is a sin in the eyes of the Christian god, but should not be illegal, then what argument does the Christian have against same sex marriage being legal? If a Christian like Craig can excuse adultery, which seems to cause far more damage to society than SSM, then he should also support the legalization of SSM since after all, we like in a non-theocratic society.

Now I know Craig is against SSM, but what defense does he have that allows legalized adultery, but not SSM? Is it because our society is "sexually promiscuous" as he says in the Q & A? Well homosexuality is promiscuous too. Does SSM cause more harm? Arguably adultery causes more harm because one is being deceived and it ruins marriages and families. Does it violate nature somehow? Craig has even acknowledged that homosexuals do not choose their sexual orientation, so homosexuality should be in god's plan, for some reason. Craig's arguments against SSM are laughable and pathetic, and deeply embarrassing for a man so well educated in philosophy. His attacks on SSM are the result of his absurd Christian worldview, which is why I could never accept it as the truth. Given Craig's apparent acceptance that secularism is a good thing that we "should" have, to me, it means that theists should be fine with SSM becoming legal since they hypocritically already support lots of other "sins" of lesser consequence being legally permitted.


Does God Permit Natural Evils?


If I had the time or the will power, I'd refute every one of W.L. Craig's Question and Answer segments. A few weeks ago a theistic writer wrote in asking Dr. Craig whether god causes or permits natural evil. Craig's answer was that god permits natural evil, but "that God is not the sole cause of natural evil."

I beg to differ.

I came across this wonderful argument a while back that argues pretty decisively that if god existed, then he would indeed be the sole cause of natural disasters. The argument goes like this:

(1) God (an omnipotent, omniscience, omni-benevolent being) exists.
(2) Natural evil exists.
(3) God is the creator and designer of the physical universe, including the laws that govern it.
(4) Natural disasters, and the evil they cause, are a direct byproduct of the laws that govern our universe.

I don't think Craig would deny premises 1-3, although he might challenge premise 2. In the Q&A he wrote:

For what is bad about natural evils is not simply the occurrence of certain natural events themselves. There is nothing evil, for example, about one continental plate’s slipping under another, nor about the earth’s trembling as a result. Such natural events are themselves ethically neutral; morality doesn’t apply to rocks and rain and wind. Rather if there is something bad about such events, it’s that human beings get caught in them.

I would agree but go a step further that it is not just people getting caught up in natural disasters that make them evil under theism, but any conscious animal that can suffer as well. That would mean that the millions of years of non-human suffering as the result of natural disasters would be evil under a theistic worldview. So given Craig's response above, I don't think he would object to premise 2.

Premise 4 is actually what Craig would seem to object to, and his first option out of god being responsible for natural evil is an appeal to quantum indeterminacy. He writes:

...if quantum indeterminacy is ontic, God could not cause an earthquake to occur at a specific time and place just by setting up the natural laws and initial conditions of the universe. If an earthquake does occur, it is only because God did not intervene to stop it. That is to say, He permitted it. Problem solved.

But god would have designed the physical universe, including the laws that govern it and would have chosen to make the universe inherently random at a fundamental level. Furthermore, god's foreknowledge would allow him to know exactly when every natural disaster would occur, even with quantum indeterminacy. I'm simply not buying the case that god creates a universe and then is shocked at how much natural suffering it causes. And Craig doesn't seem to be making that case either. He seems to be trying to argue that if quantum indeterminacy is real, then god does not directly cause every natural disaster. The beauty of the above argument I'm defending is that is god would still ultimately be responsible for natural disasters, at least indirectly, because he is still the one calling the shots on how the universe will operate and he has foreknowledge. So the problem is not solved.

Monday, February 24, 2014

I Think Carroll Won The Debate


It was a very intense debate Friday night at the Greer Heard Forum between Sean Carroll and William Lane Craig and I have to say I think Carroll decisively won. This isn't due to any sort of atheistic bias on my part, as I think Craig has "won" several of his debates on style and deliverance, but this is due to the fact that Carroll addressed nearly all of Craig's arguments and handsomely refuted them.

The debate relied on a lot of high end physics and cosmology that the average layperson simply does not understand. Thankfully I've become increasingly more knowledgeable about physics and cosmology over the years in large part as a result of debating theists. A frequent topic that came up was the concept of Boltzmann Brains - living physical brains that can spontaneously arise out of the quantum vacuum whose initial entropy states appear to be more likely than the initial low entropy state that our universe had. To refute the issue of the Boltzmann Brain dilemma, one has to have a serious understanding of the science behind it and its philosophical implications - something I think your average atheistic debater has no idea how to address or refute. I know that Dr. Carroll has written extensively on the Boltzmann Brain problem in his scientific papers and other works and he is well equipped to handle accusations that its a defeater for the multiverse.

(On a side note, I just recently signed up for free online classes from the World Science Festival on relativity that will be taught by Brian Greene (see here for details). I would certainly like to have a deeper understanding of the science behind relativity and quantum mechanics, even if it means I may have to face my crippling fear of math. You should check it out.)

Anyway, as far as the debate went, I wish that there was another round of rebuttals and I wish that there was a cross examination period so they could've gone head to head. I think Carroll really could've pressed Craig on some of his misuse of science to support his case for theism, and he could have pressed Craig on the B-theory of time (which Craig actually brought up!) as it is a knock-down argument against the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

Craig also made a lot of noise, as he always does, over the idea that the universe "popped" into existence from nothing that he thinks the atheist must believe. Even if one grants the A-theory of time, the universe doesn't really pop into being. The reason why is that this presumes that you somehow have absolute nothing - and then - the universe inexplicably "pops" into existence. But this is not how it works because it presumes time exists prior to the universe. Since time is intertwined with space, from the very first moment of t=0 you have a universe. There is no moment when nothing exists prior to the universe. Therefore, you start with a universe; it doesn't pop into being. It's the same way how you cannot rewind a DVD passed 00:00:00. There is no such time as -00:00:01 on a DVD player. From the moment the DVD starts at 00:00:00 you have a movie. Carroll brought this up during the Q & A but they were not allowed to go back and forth on it.

Overall, it was a very good debate and I think Craig got hammered pretty hard from a physicist who knows the science much better than he does. I wish Sean would engage in many more debates like this one as it turns out he's one of the best debaters on behalf of atheism.


Share

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...